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Re: HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: Investing in smallholder agriculture for food and nutrition security

FSN Forum Team FAO, Italy
FSN Forum

Posted on behalf of the Federal Government of Germany

  1. Introductory Comments

Germany highly welcomes the opportunity to comment on the HLPE V0-Draft on constraints to smallholder investment in agriculture. Overall, the paper provides a good as well as balanced assessment of the challenges faced while attempting to facilitate smallholder based agricultural development.

However, the report should take more into account the overall challenges of agricultural development in the context of ensuring food and nutrition security. Agriculture has to feed approximately nine billion people in 2050. Climate Change, declining soil fertility and the consequences of the negligence of the agricultural sector in the past are constraints for increased sustainable agricultural production which is in its own required to implement the human right to adequate food worldwide. FAO estimates that investments of 83 million USD are needed every year to achieve that. The role and the potential of small scale farmers to contribute to increased agricultural production and to benefit by enhancing their own means of production and productivity should be elaborated more detailed in the report.

Since the CFS requested the HLPE to compile a report on constraints to smallholder investment in agriculture, the headline of the V0-Draft is creating the false impression of dealing with investments in smallholder agriculture in general. Yet, the content really covered by the report and requested by the CFS deals with challenges and opportunities to facilitate smallholder based agricultural development by smallholders themselves. As a consequence, Germany recommends changing the headline into “Facilitating smallholder agriculture for food and nutrition security”.

  1. Definition and significance of Smallholder agriculture: is the approach in the report adequate?

Assuming that the above mentioned improved embedding of the topic into overall agricultural challenges will be included, the report is adequate to define smallholder agriculture and their significance.

  1. Framework for Smallholder agriculture and related investments: is the typology useful, adequate and accessible for the problem at hand?

The used typology is adequate to access the problem. The charts and boxes within the report further simplify the readability of the document.

  1. Constraints to smallholder investment: are all main constraints presented in the draft? Have important constraints been omitted?

All in all the constraints are addressed in a proper way. However, the following aspects should be included as well:

  • One of the basic conditions for successful investment and sustainable development, particularly in the small scale farming sector, is education, especially vocational education and training. While education in general is referred to, the document does not address the area of vocational education and training. The report should give reference to the importance of vocational education and training appropriate consideration.
  • The report repeatedly refers to climate change. However, only the relationship between the sector of small scale farmers and the mitigation of climate change is mentioned. Given the already apparent impacts of climate change on agriculture in many regions, it will be essential to enable the small scale farmers to adapt their production to the changing climatic conditions. Therefore investment in adaptation strategies for small scale farmers should be taken into account appropriately in the report.
  • The report mentions in its summary the dimension of institutional and policy design. More detailed insights in the importance of good governance are nevertheless lacking in the main document. Germany recommends therefore evaluating the inclusion of an additional chapter dealing with political frameworks and underlying governance structures.
  1. Are the main areas for recommendations and the priority domains for action adequate? Does the draft include sufficient information at the adequate level to support the policy messages?

While referring to the agricultural dimension of economic growth, the macroeconomic parameters for overall development need to be taken into account as well or at least be kept in mind. In some countries investing in smallholder farming might contradict the optimum of macroeconomic development policies.

While referring to the enforcement of rights regarding existing rights on land the reference to the Voluntary Guidelines of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of national food security and the self-commitment by the states for its implementation has to be included and clearly pointed out.

In general, it is appropriate to focus on small scale farmers because they represent the majority of agricultural producers. Nevertheless, the focus should be on a dynamic development taking small scale farmers as a starting point for further development. A mere conservation of small scale farming structures in the long run should not be the leading idea of this study.

Further, the study recommends states to develop a “National Smallholder Vision and Strategic Framework”. Such an instrument can be regarded as useful in order to better address the smallholder issue within the national agricultural policy planning. However, given the need for synergies and an effective and efficient use of capacities it might be more appropriate to recommend including that kind of framework in already existing international or national frameworks like CAADP or other national agricultural strategies.